Lenovo primes to take on Microsoft's next Surface tablet with Miix 720

The Miix 720 is a 12-inch Windows tablet with Kaby Lake chips and a Thunderbolt 3 port

The world is waiting for Microsoft's next Surface tablet, but when it ships, it'll have to contend with Lenovo's new Miix 720, a 12-inch Windows tablet loaded with cutting-edge features.

The Miix 720 will start at US$999 and will ship in April. That's about $100 more than the starting price of the Surface Pro 4, but the Miix 720 has superior features.

But the Surface could catch up with the Miix 720 soon. A new Surface Pro 5 could be out as soon as early this year and have features like faster processors and a higher resolution screen that could on par or better than the Miix 720. That's when the competition will get interesting.

But for now, it's Miix 720 versus the Surface Pro 4. The Lenovo tablet runs on an Intel Core processor based on the latest Kaby Lake architecture and has an integrated graphics processor capable of supporting 4K video. Surface Pro 4 is a generation behind with Skylake chips, but the next Surface tablet will likely get Kaby Lake.

Lenovo has borrowed some ideas from the Surface with a kickstand at the back of the Miix 720, which helps the tablet sit upright on a desk or tabletop.

A difference-maker in the Miix 720 is the USB-C port, which is also a high-speed Thunderbolt 3 port to connect external peripherals like displays and storage devices. Surface Pro 4 only has one full-sized USB 3.0 port. Additionally, the Miix 720 has USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports.

The Lenovo tablet supports up to 16GB of faster DDR4 DRAM. The Surface Pro 4 supports up to 16GB of the older and slower DDR3 memory. Data moves faster with DDR4 memory, and that means faster computer performance.

The Lenovo's 12-inch screen is smaller than the 12.3-inch screen on the Surface Pro 4 but displays images at a higher resolution. The Miix 720 displays images at a 2880 x 1920-pixel resolution, which is better than the 2736 x 1824-pixel resolution of the Surface Pro 4.

The Miix 720 has storage capacity up to 1TB, and a keyboard attachment turns the tablet into a laptop. Those capabilities are available on the Surface Pro 4. Lenovo will separately sell a stylus allowing users to take notes and draw on the tablet.

Lenovo's tablet weighs about 780 grams, or 1.1 kilograms with the keyboard attachment. It has a 1-megapixel front camera with infrared, allowing users to log into Windows PCs via face recognition.The tablet also has a 5-megapixel rear camera.

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